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Birth Order and Finances

One thing that I found really interesting, in this week’s reading it was the birth order and finances, chapter 2 in Till Debt do Us Part, by Poduska. I would have never thought that the order in which you were born can influence how you are with your finances. It’s interesting how the responsibility and accountability changes from first born to the last one born. As I look at my siblings and compare them to the characteristics of both first born and last born, I find that it does describe my sister, but not so much my brother. When I discussed this with my mom, she recounted some stories of her siblings, and said that it was the reverse order for them. My mom is a middle born child and exhibits more characteristics of a first born.

For me, I’m the middle of three children, so I guess I could qualify as the second born and the middle born. However, I feel like I can relate more to the middle born as opposed to the second born. The second born is more focused on having the best of everything and being on top, which I’m just not interested in. This is not to say that I don’t like to have nice things, but they don’t have to be better than everyone else’s. I have a healthy sense of fairness. I do love to give things to others, but I don’t think it’s to feel like I fit in or am loved, I really like to see people smile. If I loan out money, I don’t expect it back and generally won’t ask someone to repay it.

My husband is first born, and it mentions that first born children have a tendency to take control, make budgets, scrutinize expenditures, and such. However, my husband doesn’t really fit that category, he really likes new and improved things, and to spend money. When reading the lists of the second born, he seems to be more like that. He’s not interested with being better than others or one upping them, he just likes the biggest and best of things, whether or not it’s needed.

While reading through the worksheets on the first born and the middle born, my husband had about 50% of the first born and about 50% of the middle born qualities. Likewise, I had about the same percentage of qualities in the first born and middle born exercises. I found that odd, that we both were like that.

We do make a good couple financially as we do complement each other. We both have our times when we want to go and buy things, and we both have our times when we don’t give in to the others want to buy. Sometimes one or the other can talk the other around to giving in, but only if data is presented and is deemed to be a smart move.

It will be interesting to see how my children fair up to the first and last born characteristics. Currently my son, who is first born, likes to spend all of his money and go asking for more. Whereas my daughter, who was last born, will put some money into her savings slot and not spend all of her money in one place. I wonder what they will learn from us, watching us handle our finances.

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Who wears the pants in the family?

Who wears the pants in the family? This is a question people throw around all the time, when they are curious as to who’s the boss. In Richard B. Miller’s article, Who’s the boss, he talks about the different relationships we have with one another. We have husbands and wife’s, parents and children, and when the children grow up, children and parents. I found this very interesting, the relationships we have with each other, not only that, how we can work together effectively, and how we can abuse these relationships.

So, who’s the boss and does there need to be a boss? Reading this article really made me examine my relationship with my husband and how we handle different situations. If you were to take a poll from all of our friends and family, most would probably say that I’m the boss most of the time. So, does there need to be a boss? In my opinion, sometimes there does need to be a boss, and I’ll explain why.

My husband is a quiet person and generally very laid back. We discuss things all the time, but for the most part, he really doesn’t have an opinion on a lot of things. Since he is that way, he generally prefers me to take care of most things, he’d rather not take the time to deal with general things. (I do discuss these with him, just so we are on the same page.) However, when it comes to something he does care about, we work together to achieve a goal. Only a few times has he put his foot down and insisted we do something his way. (There have been times where I put my foot down too.) The reason I mentioned that having a boss at times is necessary, is if there wasn’t, at least in my marriage, things wouldn’t get done.

Since my husband does have such a laid back personality, I found that if I didn’t do something, we generally didn’t get things done. He couldn’t make up his mind so he decided to just not do anything. Of course, with my personality, that doesn’t work too well form me. This is where I think we complement each other, I’m the one who lights the fire and he’s the one who chills things out. I think there is always going to be a more dominant partner, but it doesn’t mean they abuse the dominance. I did see this growing up in my family, where one parent dominates over the other, not letting the other one make decisions. The Family Proclamation clearly states that men and women are equal, with different responsibilities.

Both my husband and I took the survey at the end of the article. It’s interesting that we both came up with about the same answers to most of the questions. This question, number 9, When it comes to money, my partner’s opinion usually wins out, can really be a hot topic for many people. Even though I’m the one who is in charge of the finances, paying the bills and such, (He supervises the s401K.) we generally talk these things out until we can come to a conclusion. There have been a few times that one of us put our foot down, and those are the times we wished we hadn’t. It’s a lesson we’ve learned over the years, if one of us is very against something, it usually means that we need to look harder at what we are doing, and not rush into things.

Sexual intimacy and being uninformed.

Like with other weeks, there are so many topics to write on, it took me a while to decide which was more important to me. There were things like fidelity, or should I say infidelity in marriage, and that infidelity can be classified as emotional, spiritual, or sexual, and the rate of spiritual or emotional infidelity has skyrocketed over the years. How infidelity starts and its progression to sexual infidelity. There’s also intimacy and how it is gift from our Heavenly Father, to bring husband’s and wife’s closer together, to bond them to one another. Lastly, there is being uninformed on the topic of intimacy and how Satan has corrupted this, giving the world the wrong impression.

I chose this week’s topic on the latter, being uninformed on the topic of intimacy and how Satan has corrupted it, giving the world the wrong impression. In the document Fulfilling the Sexual Stewardship in Marriage, Sean Brotherson makes a really good point. He says, “I realized that despite months of thought and communication with my wife-to-be, my parents, and friends about everything from finances and future children to educational plans and differing personality styles, there was still a gaping hole in my knowledge about marital matters. I knew very little about sexual intimacy.” In his document he also mentions that many parents are uncomfortable or embarrassed to bring up these kinds of subjects. Also, Brother Hugh B Brown mentions in his book, You and Your Marriage, “Thousands of young people come to the marriage altar almost illiterate insofar as this basic and fundamental function is concerned.” This seems to be the case for many young people, the topic of sex or intimacy isn’t talked about in the home. A lot of parents adopt the attitude that they will learn about it when it happens. Either that or they are embarrassed, uncomfortable, or even ashamed about speaking to their children. Speaking from my own experience, growing up, life’s changes, the body, and intimacy were never talked about. I don’t know if my parents simply didn’t think there was a need to talk about it or that they were embarrassed and uncomfortable with the subject.

Because of media, the world has gotten the wrong impression of what intimacy between a husband and wife really is. (This is Satan’s way of trying to destroy the family.)
What we see in media portrays both men and women, in a bad light, demeaning both of them. In the article by Brent A. Barlow, They Twain Shall Be One: Thoughts on Intimacy in Marriage, Brother Barlow mentions, “Sometimes the image of men and women shown in the media subtly and incorrectly influences our perception of sexuality. Seldom does the media present a balanced, mature, loving marital relationship. Men are often presented as strong, dashing heroes with little commitment and only one desire—sex. Women are portrayed as hopelessly romantic, pragmatically businesslike, or silly, who in any case have one function—that of satisfying man’s one desire. Both of these narrow views deny the individuality of men and women.” Satan wants us to think like the media portrays intimacy, this way he can influence us, leading us down the wrong path, the path to divorce and unhappiness. He also destroys the bond between a husband and wife, that intimacy brings to the marriage.

It really surprises me that with today’s lack of morals, inhibitions, and such, that parents aren’t bringing up this subject more. Parents seem to be open to talking about safe sex, what to do and not to do. Instead they should be talking to them about abstaining from sex, that it is between a husband and wife, and what the physical intimacy brings to the marriage. (See Video) I appreciate that both authors of these articles mention that there is nothing wrong with getting books and reading about this. Talking to those you trust to get a better understanding of what to expect, and what it does for a marriage, and why God gave this to us. Both articles also mention that communication between husbands and wives’ is very important, and that lack of communication can lead to dissatisfaction, hurt feelings, and drawing away from one another. This can eventually lead to an unhappy marriage, infidelity, and divorce.

Gridlock or no gridlock!

When I think of the term gridlock, I immediately envision a traffic jam. Traffic jams will eventually work themselves out, but according to Gottman, some problems that create gridlock never work themselves out. In fact, he says that there are going to be problems within any marriage that won’t be solvable. I found this interesting, as I would have expected a therapist to say that all things can be worked out, with time and patience. Goddard quotes Gottman, in his chapter on charity, and says that the 20% we don’t like about our partners, about 70% isn’t changeable. The 30% that is, is only changeable if we come to enjoy our spouse as they are. These are some interesting statistics and this goes to prove a point, we can’t change our spouses, they can only change if they want to.

Throughout this week I’ve been thinking about the things that my husband and I don’t see eye to eye on, and have come to the conclusion that there aren’t too many. The ones we don’t see eye to eye on, one of us generally doesn’t care that much about. The one I think we generally disagree on is how to spend money. Looking at the characteristics of what gridlock is, did this issue meet the 4 characteristics of gridlock, and why I thought they did or didn’t.

Same argument again and again, without any resolution. Well, we do disagree about the same things over and over again, he wants freedom to spend how he wants and I want to be careful and not spend on things that we really don’t need. Every time he comes to his conclusion and I come to mine, then the disagreement ends, but it will be the same thing again next time, nothing has changed.

Can’t address the subject with humor, empathy, or affection. Again, thinking back to the disagreements, my husband always addresses this with humor, whereas I am more serious about it, and generally don’t find his flippant humor funny. I do have empathy for some of the situations where he spends money and I don’t agree, but he has more empathy on my position to spend money vs when I’m trying to save money.

The topic becomes increasingly polarizing with time. To be honest, I had to look up what it meant to be polarizing when it came to a topic. (It means to have opinions diverge or grow apart.) After researching this, I came to the conclusion that with this topic, it always seems remains neutral, we don’t go to one side more and more each time. It literally is rehashing the same subject.

Lastly, that compromise seems impossible, it would mean selling out or giving up something important. This one was probably the hardest for me to decide on, but when it came down to it, I finally decided that we can compromise at times. His opinion on money is that he should be able to buy whatever he wants to, whereas I’m the thrifty one, and try to weigh out the needs vs wants. Over the years, each of us has made some compromises here, I give in at times and he tries not to spend so much.

After breaking this issue down, we do seem to be gridlocked on the issue, but as the years go by we are slowly making improvements. This isn’t a subject that we avoid, it is usually foremost on our minds. It is an issue that will always be there though, mainly because of how we both view money. Even though we both had similar childhoods regarding money, there sometimes wasn’t enough, we approached this issue differently as adults. He likes his freedom and I am somewhat careful, making sure everything is covered.

Anger is our choice.

Anger, what makes us angry and can we control our anger? Satan knows what makes us angry, he knows how to push our buttons and get under our skin. He is going to use what comes naturally to us, to lead us off the path and to follow him. In Elder Robbins talk on Agency and Anger, I couldn’t but help finding myself relating to many of the things he was saying.

Growing up in a house that pretty much all problems were resolved by screaming and yelling at one another, this is what I was conditioned to. You can probably guess how I ended up dealing with issues, yep, getting angry and yelling. Now, I’m a believer that we don’t have to follow in our parents foot steps, we can choose to over come the issues and be different from our upbringing. There are a few things I chose early on, not to be like my parents, but one of them wasn’t the yelling and anger. This is something I struggle with on a daily basis, and I find it very hard to overcome. Elder Robbins, in his talk Agency and Anger, he mentions that we can choose to not let things anger us. Why is this so hard to do, why is anger so hard to avoid?

Many years ago I read an article, I’m not sure who wrote it, but it mentioned that no one can make you get angry, it’s a choice that you make. This video by President Monson has some good advice that really made me think and ponder why I let people have that kind of control over me. (Unfortunately they still do.) In Elder Robbins talk, he mentions the same thing, people can’t make you angry, you choose it, but most of us don’t think that way. I stopped using the phrase “But he/she made me angry,” a while ago. I now say that I got angry. He also says that when we use the phrases, “But he/she made me angry or I lost my temper,” we are blaming others for our anger.

I now see the same pattern in my children, they use the same words, that the other child made them angry, trying to justify their actions and blame the other child for what is going on. I find myself correcting them, telling them that the other child didn’t make them angry, that the other child did something they didn’t like, and they could have chosen not to get angry at them.

I agree with Elder Robbins, that we do have a choice, and if we choose to get angry, that goes agains what God wants for us. Satan has gotten his hooks into us, and it takes a conscience to over come him. When we choose anger, it not only hurts others, it hurts ourselves.

Looking Inward

Wow, what an overwhelming two chapters, Gottman’s, letting you partner influence you and Goddard’s, on pride. While reading through these two chapters I could see myself so often in their advice. Goddard starts off this chapter with a role play of a husband and wife, the wife reminds the husband that he has faults too, after the husband gets on her case. The husband’s reply was that he knew he had faults, but his didn’t bother him as much as hers did. I have to admit, I chuckled, and I chuckled because I could see myself in this situation, making the same comment the husband had made. Elder Uchtdorf gives a really good example of being proud vs pride.

I am fortunate that my husband is an easy going person and is generally accepting of my input. (Don’t get me wrong, he can be as stubborn as a brick wall.) I tend to be the one who makes a lot of decisions for the family, and I’ve always just assumed that he just didn’t care and would go along with whatever I decided, it was easier for him. After reading these two chapters, I’ve come to the conclusion that my thoughts are only partly true. He does care, but it’s not as important to him, as it is to me. Knowing this, he chooses to let me make the decisions. There are times we butt heads, and these are the times he does care or thinks what we are doing is not right. As I said earlier, I am fortunate that my husband is fairly easy going, because when I do bring up sticky subjects, more often than not, he is willing to sit down and discuss it. We usually come to a general consensus about things, but sometimes I am pig headed and insist it be my way. (This has come back to bite me, and us, a few times.) Gratefully, he doesn’t hold that over my head too often. Looking back though, when it happens to him, I usually do. This is something I have been working on for years, and I am slowly making improvements.

Pride is a tricky thing, it leads you to believe that you are right and they are wrong. President Benson talk on pride explains just how damaging it can be. The comment Goddard makes about our own mental inversion, “we have limited facts and active biases, and that no human sees a situation or event clearly, and is influenced by self-interest and ideology.” (Paraphrased.) After reading this chapter, I can honestly say I have a lot of work to do on this subject. I’ve always thought of myself as a realist, seeing things as they really are, and logical. Does this sound like pride to you? Yep, and that’s not to say that I’m not logical, see things as they are, etc., I’m just not as logical and such as I see myself. It used to infuriate me that my dad never recognized others opinions and I promised myself I wouldn’t be the same, but at times I can see my dad in myself. Goddard mentions that this really is a hard thing to see in oneself, and easy to see in others, and I would have to agree. This chapter has given me a lot of food for thought, how I can turn my irritation and impatience around, and to see the good qualities and intentions of my husband. One last thing I would like to mention from this chapter, it’s his analogy on flat tires, and this is one thing I’m going to work on. He says that “Appreciation is more powerful than correcting, appreciation inflates tires, whereas criticism is a slow leak.” How often are we more prone to criticize our spouse, than show them appreciation for who they are and what they are doing?

Loosing Customs, Rituals, and such.

I’ve done a lot of delving into the past this week, with the readings. Looking at the activities and reading through them, I kept answering, well, maybe, on a lot of them. I wondered why I didn’t get a positive true or false answer. That’s when I started looking back to when my husband and I were married and the time prior to children. (I just have to say, children really do change your life.) Remembering back to our first 6 years of marriage, I could answer many more with a true or false. As children came into our life, it seems the water became rather muddy, certain things got put on hold or even discontinued all together. For example, my husband and I went to balloon fiesta in Albuquerque, every year even if we lived states away. We discontinued going, even though we both still enjoy hot air balloons. I’ve also noticed that some of the things we used to do together, over time, one still likes to do but the other isn’t interested anymore.

Anyway, one thing that really caught my attention was the topic on creating micro cultures in your family. I noticed, that within both of our families, there wasn’t a whole lot of traditions on either side, and family wasn’t really close either. Gottman says, “Rituals don’t necessarily have to derive from your respective childhoods and family history. You can create your own.” I remember that we started to develop our own rituals, customs, and traditions prior to having children. Things like balloon fiesta, going out to eat for Thanksgiving and then to the movies, going on motorcycle rides every week, etc. I have been looking back at those things and wondering why they all seemed to have gone away, and feeling like I’ve really lost something. As soon as my son was born, pretty much these things all stopped, but not much ended up replacing the rituals or customs. I think this has been on the biggest disconnects my husband and I have now and I know he feels it too. We haven’t been building new rituals or customs with our family.

Due to our jobs being a 24/7 and 365 days of the year, we end up working a lot of holidays, so we celebrate Christmas and Easter when we can, and the other holidays, like 4th of July, Thanksgiving, and even New Year’s eve are just another day to us. I can’t but help to think what kind of an effect this will have on our children and their future families, will they be disconnected too? Will they think of these important days as just another day? This has made me give serious thought to what we are really missing out on, the closeness to one another, as well as to our children. This has made me wonder how we can develop new customs and rituals or redevelop some of the old ones, for ourselves and our children. I know there is a lot of work to be done in this area, as it’s never too late to start. I think this will be a topic of conversation for our next date day. (I can’t call it date night, because we do date mornings or afternoons, with our weird schedules.) Here’s a question to put out there for all, reflecting back, have you noticed that some of your customs and rituals have gone by the wayside? Have you been able to replace them with new ones?

Don’t overlook the positives!

There was a lot of information to choose from this week, and it was actually hard for me to decide what to write on. Gottman’s advice on enhancing our love maps and nurturing your fondness and admiration for your spouse has me curious to see what my husband’s reactions will be. Goddard’s chapter on sacrifice was speaking directly to me. The quote he used from Daniel Wile is something I’m going to pass on, “Choosing a partner is choosing a set of problems,” meaning everyone is going to have problems, just not the same problems.

What I’ve decided to write on this week isn’t all the great advice given in the two books, but rather the two stories, Smart Marriages (-SmartMarriages) and Nurturing Fondness and Admiration (Story-NutFondAdmSmartMarriages). Smart Marriages actually had me in tears. As I read through this letter of all the positives her husband had been doing, I kept thinking of my husband, and all the things he does. I mention this because there are times that I’m quick to point out to him what he hasn’t done, and not the positives of what he has done. Reading her story made me feel bad and ungrateful for all the things he does do on a daily basis. One thing my husband has said, when he didn’t do something, is that he did do things, just not what I wanted him to. We’ve actually sat down and started talking about that, which helps him understand where I’m coming from and where he’s coming from. I have to remember to show him how grateful for all the little things he does on a daily basis. This is helping us both to stay positive about things and not go down the same path, arguing again.

The letter, Nurturing Fondness and Admiration hit close to home. I would say that I wasn’t as far along as she was, but we both had lost contact with one another. Some of you may have already heard this, but about a year or so after we got married, we had to live in separate states. (This was due to our jobs.) After a year and a half, we were able to be under the same roof again. However, this separation did a number on our marriage, and we had to learn how to be husband and wife again. It was a hard road, but we eventually got back on the path. I have to give my husband credit for his willingness to stick with the counseling and work through our differences. We essentially had to learn again, who each other was and respect each other for who we were. I’m happy to say that we made it through and it’s made us stronger. Currently we barely see each other, due to all the demands on our time, but we are trying to not loose contact with each other this time, to keep our love map somewhat current. I think one thing that is pulling us through better, is the gospel, and the understanding that we both are making sacrifices, and it will eventually get better.

Both of these letters really made me think of how I speak to my husband. How much he is there for me and all that he does, and I wonder if I give him credit for it. Also, these make me realize just how important knowing who your spouse is, and keeping your love map current. It’s amazing just how quickly we can lose touch with each other, unless we work at it.

Changing ourselves and overcoming the natural man.

 

Goddard’s book, “Drawing Heaven into your marriage”, really hit home for me this week. He focuses on bringing the gospel into your marriage, and working toward overcoming the natural man. Goddard states, “I believe that the key to a healthy relationship is being a healthy, saintly, God-seeking person, and that Marriage is God’s graduate school for advanced training in Christian character.” We need to be focusing on changing ourselves, our bad habits, and how we communicate with one another, to bring about a happy and everlasting marriage.

Communicating with one another is a key component on how we view and interact with one another. If we speak in harsh tones, criticize, put down, and belittle our partner they will be less likely to interact with us, viewing us with negativity. However, if we speak to our spouse as we would like to be spoken to, using kind, soft, uplifting, and positive words, communication can happen and we are viewed in a positive light. According to Goddard, “When we insult the dignity of a family members, we create a system of resentment and spite. We lose any influence we could have had. As Jesus ably demonstrated, a simple and gentle answer is best. Often less is more. This statement has me pondering just how I do speak to my husband and children. Am I using words that I would want used when talking to me, or am I being too blunt and harsh. I think that it is somewhere in between, some days are good and some are not so good.

One key change that has made a difference in our lives is that my husband joined the church, and was baptized about 3 years ago We were sealed in the Temple about 2 years ago, and during that time we both have worked to bring the gospel into our marriage. This quote from Goddard sums it up, “We do not become celestial by adding a pinch of Jesus to a terrestrial life. At some point we simply throw ourselves on His merits, mercy and grace. At some point we recognize that we may be able to keep ourselves from being the vilest of sinners, but if we are to be perfected, we must have His miraculous help.” So, how we communicate has changed, I think we show each other more respect and consideration, tempering our words. With this, I also think we have improved on our listening skills, we take the time to hear what the other is saying. Some say that I’ve changed my husband, but in reality, he has changed himself. My biggest change is how I word things, instead of just blurting out what I’m thinking, I consider his feelings and how he might take what was said. He has mentioned the difference several times and is appreciative of it. In turn, I find he is more cooperative and willing to do more. Little by little we work to keep the gospel in our marriage and make changes within ourselves to overcome the natural man.

H. Wallace Goddard

The Third Wolf

A covenant marriage and a contractual marriage, is there a difference? Some will say yes and others no. Bruce C Hafen gives a good definition of each. “When troubles come, the parties of a contractual marriage see happiness by walking away. They marry to obtain benefits and will stay only as long as they are receiving what they bargained for, but, when trouble comes to a covenant marriage, the husband and wife work them through. They marry to give and grow, bound by covenants to each other, to the community, and to God.”

Elder Hafen mentions in his talk, Covenant Marriage,” November 1996 Ensign, that there are 3 wolves that test every marriage, natural adversity, own imperfections, and excessive individualism. (A death of a child, insecurities, and selfishness are just one example of each.) While all three can lead to the end of a marriage, I believe excessive individualism is the most toxic. When a person is only thinking of themselves and their needs, even some of the littlest things can weaken and eventually destroy a marriage. Even with natural adversity and one’s own imperfections, if they care more for the other than themselves, these things can be worked through. A quote from Elder Uchtdorf explains it so well. “Those who save their marriages understand that this pursuit takes time, patience, and above all the blessings of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. It requires you to be kind, envy not, see not your own, not be easily provoked, think no evil, and rejoice in the truth. In other words, it requires charity, the pure love of Christ.

We are all born into a world of, it’s all about me. As a baby and toddler, our own needs come first. As we grow we learn to start caring for others and take others needs first. However, we are bombarded by TV, movies, and advertisements that tell us we need to think of ourselves, give ourselves a break, and that we are entitled to have the best. If we don’t get what we want here, go over there, because the grass is always greener. When we take that attitude into a marriage, it won’t be long before that marriage begins to suffer and fall. Now don’t get me wrong, there are times we will need to place our needs first and take a break, but they are moments and not an attitude.

A new mother and father quickly learn to put their child’s needs ahead of their own. (Just ask a new mom how much it means to her to be able to take a shower or have a hot meal.) I believe this is one of Heavenly Fathers ways of helping us to grow and to move beyond the me, to a we. I’ve seen a lot of people change dramatically after the birth of their first child. It’s as if their whole thought process’s change and they begin to grow up, losing the, it’s all about me attitude.

Within a marriage it’s the same thing. You take two individuals with separate thoughts, desires, and ways of doing things and merge them into one. Within successful marriages those two individuals learn, grow, and understand that it’s a we not and not a me. Marriage takes constant work on both parts to keep it successful, there will be a lot of give and take required to keep the third wolf from creeping in. As Elder Uchtdorf says, “Great marriages are built brick by brick, day after day, over a lifetime.”